Take the Right Path

This is a request for help from, and an offer of assistance to, other Leesburg residents from those of us on Chancellor Street and surrounding neighborhoods. The town is developing next year's budget, and some are pushing for the town to spend an estimated half-million taxpayer dollars to build a bike path through Chancellor Street despite our concerns. This path would only benefit residents of Country Club, Linden Hills, Woodlea Manor and Greenway Farms. Because the Leesburg Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation, has identified a much more functional alternative, we hope the town will fully explore all options before deciding to spend your money over our objections. If you desire town support for important programs or projects in your neighborhood, please e-mail us at Priorities2000@cs.com, and we will try to help your voice be heard.

The town has identified an excellent trail alignment along South King Street that actually takes people directly into town to Food Lion, Safeway, Leesburg Pharmacy, the post office and all the other businesses along Catoctin Circle. It also connects to the W&OD trail, the Skate Park and Douglass Community Center. Residents from the above subdivisions plus Tuscarora Apartments, South King Street, Davis Avenue and Harrison Street could benefit from this trail. Similar in nature to the successful path along Route 287 in Purcellville, this alternative has the additional benefits of reduced speed limits and stoplights for street crossings. Since VDOT is going to build most of this trail already, if we are patient and work together, Leesburg will absorb very little of the cost. County officials have already indicated a willingness to work together on this effort.

A recent letter to the editor identified the need for functional bike paths. This clearly applies to the planned VDOT path along South King Street. The only obvious benefit of the Chancellor Street trail appears to be that some would not have to drive to one of the many convenient W&OD access points that already exist in Leesburg. These accesses are used routinely by the almost 30,000 other residents of Leesburg. Unless we are really out of touch with today's priorities, the town can use the estimated half-million dollars far more effectively!

Only within the last two years have we been aware of the attempt to build this trail at the end of our street. Since the proposed path is through a heavily wooded area leading to a fairly remote section along Dry Mill Road, those of us with children had immediate concerns. Articles in area papers over the last year regarding serious incidents on bike paths and in wooded areas reinforced our concerns about this proposed combination of the two. Many other concerns exist regarding this path. Last year, Loudoun County officials listened to our concerns and did not join Leesburg's request for federal funding for the Chancellor Street trail. VDOT has denied funding for the trail three times.

Discussions with our friends, co-workers and relatives in Woodlea Manor, Greenway Farms and Country Club have not indicated an urgency for the trail nor a requirement that it be forced over our objections. A survey by the town of all 1,054 homes in the area identified only 344 that were not satisfied with their current access, and the written comments indicated many thought Chancellor Street would take them to town. If you feel your need for the trail is so critical that our concerns should be ignored and Leesburg should use taxpayer funds now, please e-mail us. Perhaps we are missing the big picture. We want to be good neighbors and work to achieve a satisfactory resolution for all.

DOUG GOOLSBY

Leesburg

A Test Failed, America

Recently America was sent reeling as baseball player John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves exercised his constitutional right of freedom of speech when he expressed his viewpoints on the cultural diversification of America. Interesting how quickly we want to censor views when we don't like what is said. While his views are to be considered of the minority in this country, I seriously doubt that fact. His views are what this country has thrived on for over two centuries.

Mr. Rocker was "tested and evaluated" as if he were a ferocious animal that maybe we can cure or lock up so he will go away and we won't have to deal with this issue. Some of you believe that he is an animal. Your testing can be arranged as well. This man doesn't have a disease! This is learned behavior, in whatever way that may be, as he grew up. I defy any person to say they never told or laughed at a gay or ethnic joke, cursed or gestured at someone not of their nationality when driving. If you have, then you need to be "tested and evaluated" just like Mr. Rocker. The views of Mr. Rocker don't scare me as much as the views expressed by overreacting, puritanical, judgmental people who immediately want this man's career or life taken from him. What makes you any different than this man? Can we say hypocrite?

Then we have the politically correct, self-righteous, white people who express outrage at Mr. Rocker, as if they know the experience behind these statements. Listening to them, you would think Mr. Rocker is the only person who holds those views. White America is still in denial about racism. It's only "those" people who think like that. Just like it's only "those" people who don't know how to drive around here. Funny, I've never met one of "those" people, nor has anyone else. It's always "those" people, never ourselves. Wake up America. We are "those" people.

Our prisons are overcrowded because we don't want to deal with societal issues, but more importantly, we don't know how; so we eliminate. So let's put Mr. Rocker in a cage so we don't have to deal with the real issue: the real issue being we all, no gender or ethical exclusion here, see part of ourselves in this young man. That's why we fear him so. Americans are so lacking in self-esteem that we let words create hatred and war. We feel so worthless that we destroy people's lives so we can feel powerful. If his comments, as erroneous as they are, touch a nerve in you and fill you with hate or anger, you must acknowledge in some way, shape or form that you are no different than he is. You do not eradicate this mentality by using him as a scapegoat, publicly flogging him or ruining his life. That, any idiot can do. Stand up America and take responsibility, for we are all to blame.

TOM DOVEL

Ashburn

Grateful for the Generosity

The holiday season is a time for sharing and caring. Once again the community has united to brighten up the holidays for our friends and neighbors in Loudoun County. Churches, schools, businesses, clubs and civic organizations and many, many concerned individuals gave generously to make the Community Holiday Coalition's "Fourth" Annual Holiday Store a big success. Thousands of donors and volunteers worked together to ensure that more than 750 families (including 1,200 children) were helped this past holiday season with toys, clothing, gifts, food, household and personal items and lots more. None of this would have been possible without the help of a caring community. We were overwhelmed by your kindness.

I'd like to share part of a thank you note we received from a recipient of the Community Holiday Coalition's "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" holiday programs.

"I am writing this letter to thank everyone that makes it possible each year for the time and energy you put into making our families' Thanksgiving and Christmas wonderful. I would like to add my name to your list of volunteers, whenever my medical condition allows me to give back to such a wonderful organization that has helped us through the difficult times we have been going through.

"Please pass on to everyone who helped with this program, that if no one else has thanked them or appreciated what they have done, I am writing this letter from all of the families that have received help this year and to thank you for the love and care that was put into this program to help us folks, that are down on our luck right now.

"May God bless each and every one that has worked to make such a great program for this community. I truly look forward to the day when I can give back to this organization."

Once again, the Community Holiday Coalition would like to thank everyone who donated or volunteered for sharing and caring. We look forward to working with all of you again later this year. Until then we wish everyone the brightest and best in the year 2000.

KAREN VELEZ

Program Coordinator

Community Holiday Coalition

Bridge Benefits Md. More One of the reasons the Commonwealth of Virginia supported 12-laning the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was to relieve congestion on I-495 in Virginia. With the announcement of the huge Opryland Hotel project in Prince George's County, the added traffic this complex will generate negates any benefits from planned improvements.

It appears that we have been outmaneuvered on the Wilson Bridge issue because as things now stand Maryland gets all the benefit. This may account for why Maryland was so cooperative and anxious to get the Wilson Bridge project approved--which raises the question of why we weren't a little more discerning about their motives and why we didn't leverage our support for 12-laning the Wilson Bridge with some promise of cooperation for much needed bridges or tunnels over or under the Potomac north of Washington.

I would like to suggest that it may not be too late to salvage something out of this if Virginia was to withhold further support for the Wilson Bridge until Maryland comes to the bargaining table and makes needed concessions for a Potomac River crossing which is essential for the Western Transportation Corridor and combating traffic congestion an U.S. Route 15 north of Leesburg.

ANDREW F. PITAS

Leesburg